New Brand Alert | STUDENTS Golf
NEW BRAND ALERT
Introducing STUDENTS Golf, the latest addition to our selection of stylish golf brands. Designed to be worn on and off the golf course, STUDENTS embodies what it means to be a lifelong learner, a student of the game of golf and of life itself. It is a lifestyle golf brand that provokes the emotional struggles of the game and the idea that no matter how good we are, no matter how much we think we know, we are always students of the game.
Created by Michael Huynh, who has been in the apparel space for 20+ years, working with big names like Kayne West and The Weeknd, STUDENTS Golf offers a fresh perspective for the golf fashion industry. Recently, we had the opportunity to sit down with Michael to learn more about the inspiration behind the brand, his plans for the future, and more. Read our interview with Michael below, and be among the first to shop STUDENTS Golf.
TRENDYGOLF: Good to be connected with you, Michael. We are so excited to have STUDENTS Golf on the site. To start, we wanted to get a little background from you. Where are you from and how did you get involved in the golf fashion space?
Michael Huynh: What's up golf fiends! My name is Michael Huynh and I am the founder of Students Golf, residing in Costa Mesa, California. I have been in the apparel space for over 20+ years. I founded a menswear brand called Publish, and have a design agency that designed for The Weeknd, Kanye West and other celebrities and athletes. My most recent gig was president of Russell Westbrook’s brand, Honor The Gift.
The apparel industry is one of the hardest industries to be in. There are so many components, and everything has to be intact.
MH: The origin story for STUDENTS really begins here: I had just come out of a long sales meeting and went back to my office to rest a bit. Suddenly, I fell backwards off my chair and was on the floor screaming in agony and was twitching, almost having a seizure, and was admitted to ER immediately. 72 hours later, I was admitted to the ER again and the doctor told me if I do not relax, I could suffer from a stroke. I got scared and stepped away from my apparel endeavors. I was then diagnosed with severe auto-immune diseases, and hyper-tension that prevented me from working, so I took a long hiatus to work on mental and physical health. Apparently stress was the main, silent killer. I never felt any type of stress during my career in the apparel space. Those that knew me knew I was always enthusiastic about the apparel industry. But stress got me.
TG: Wow. So what happened after you stepped away from your apparel business?
MH: Yeah. So one year into recovery, I had an opportunity to work alongside Russ. It was literally one of the best experiences I’ve had and I am grateful for the opportunity. I was in a different mental state, mainly because I was able to be creative and not try to run the overall business. During my time with Honor The Gift, I found my way into golf. This was six years ago now. We went for a charity event at Monarch Beach Golf Links, and I immediately invested into a $1500 dollar setup at Roger Dunn with absolutely no knowledge of golf. And I sucked so bad… I embarrassed myself in front of many cool brands I’ve worked with in the past. I kept duffing, chunking, slicing, shanking… You name it. I had a G.E.D. = Good et. duffing. Ha. Then I suddenly pured a shot onto the green… and the rest was history. I caught the bug bad; so bad that I joined three country clubs consecutively.
Now I am a huge advocate of golf and mental health.
MH: Non- certified of course - call me at your own risk.
TG: That’s incredible. Golf really does wonders for the mind, body and spirit. Is this around the time the idea for STUDENTS Golf was born? What/who inspired it?
MH: As I was golfing, I didn’t see a singular brand that offered golf attire that matched my lifestyle and sensibilities. Then I looked more into the golf apparel space and felt like it could use more experimental designers like myself. I started incorporating my lifestyle and sensibilities into a line where I felt could be unique to the space. There was also a lack of storytelling in golf, so that's where all our graphics come from.
I basically pull conversations, frustrations, debauchery, relationships on the golf course into a golf brand. We tell stories, like our graphic t-shirt “If you play bad, play bad fast.” - I mean, all of us have complained about slow pace right? Well, there you go… That's a story. STUDENTS is a lifestyle golf brand that provokes the emotional struggles of the game. No matter how good we are, even the best…
We are always students of the game.
TG: That is so true, we are always students of the game. Talk a little bit more about the blend of fashion / streetwear and golf wear and how STUDENTS fits there.
MH: If you take off all the logos on golf attire, most of the brands all look the same. It's the same materials with the same tech. This is where STUDENTS differentiates itself from the rest of the brands. We wanted to compel people through storytelling and through the lens of a designer in the streetwear and contemporary space. It's a really exciting time because it takes a collective to really grow this new energy into a space dominated by big brands and old money.
MH: I like this new energy and direction golf is going in. I remember back in the days when streetwear wasn’t even a thing. On the east coast were independent brands like Mighty Healthy, King Stampede, Mishka, 10 Deep, Recon, Union, SSUR. The west coast had Stussy, The Hundreds, Crooks, Obey. I firmly believe it took a collective of brands to make something work. I can see the same in golf. It's not going to be 1 brand creating this new wave, it's going to take a collective group of brands. And I’m grateful for having great friends in the industry to help move this energy forward.
TG: We really like this new wave energy too. It’s exciting for the future of the game. Speaking of, what is your vision for the future of the brand?
MH: Currently we’re offering a lot of printables and graphics for our brand because we’re still establishing the pillars and sensibilities of the brand. In our Collection 003 dropping this fall, we’ll be offering a wide array of on-course garments manufactured by some of the biggest golf brands, but we’re putting our own spin to the garments. Our intent was definitely to come out of the gates doing printables so we can represent golf lifestyle off-course without having to wear a polo to identify with golf.
We have a lot of really cool collaborations dropping this year. A flagship store in the USA and Asia are in the works. We’ll be hosting a membership where members can come and play courses that are hard to get on every month.
Your home is your sanctuary, and it should inspire you, so we’ll be venturing into home goods sometime in the future. We also have an exciting artist series dropping later this year. And a kids division is on the way. In order to grow the future, you gotta nurture the youth!
TG: That all sounds so exciting! So who in your mind wears your clothes? What is your customer type?
MH: I would assume someone who has an affinity for art, streetwear, mental health, social awareness and obviously an addiction for golf (in a good way of course). However we try not to corner ourselves into an exclusive or age bucket (I’m currently 38) - we want to make golf more fun and break barriers.
STUDENTS represents the muni maestros, the morning dew sweepers, the people that are afraid of asking their spouse if they can run another 9 or 18 holes after finishing a round because they have conscious guilt.
Our version of golf is less zen and more exciting.
MH: We want those who are intimidated by golf to give golf a chance. I think TopGolf is healthy for the sport. It gives a mere glimpse of how fun the game is.
TG: What is your signature style?
MH: Students’ style is military meets outdoors meets art.
TG: Who inspires your style? Biggest fashion inspiration?
MH: Growing up, I’ve always worn a lot of my father’s workwear clothes from working at USPS. My father also wore a lot of militant clothing being in the Vietnam war, so naturally I’ve picked up his sensibilities growing up. Then in my later years, I’ve always admired Japanese and Scandinavian designers.
TG: What about the game of golf speaks to you?
MH: The camaraderie, the banter, even the gambling. Stephen Malbon once said, “If you want to get better at golf, put some money on the line.” And surely, that did it for me… I don’t want to come home a loser. Plus, who likes to lose money?
But in all honesty, golf is one of the hardest sports. There are so many nuances to get better at the game. There's appreciation in solitary and there's so much fun in inclusiveness. You can either play the course, or you can play against your friends. It's literally one of the best sports in the world and I wish I had the opportunity to golf at a younger age. That's why this year I am committing more time to contribute to SCGA Juniors and any junior programs around the world. Shouts to Kayce Wilke at SCGA!
TG: Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. Is there anything else you want to add or anything else you think we should know?
MH: Thank you guys so much! I think the only thing is, I’d like to work with anyone who wants to make golf more inclusive. It doesn’t matter if you’re a low handicapper or a high handicapper, we can all make golf more fun and we can all play together.